For years we have been in touch with the international punk community.
The power of the Internet has seen the subculture spread all over the planet.
Punk rock international is massive, the music that is discovered on the Internet and is far removed from what people are told to like by the mainstream and has a power and honesty that is striking a chord.
The Strokes get sold as alternative culture but people are looking through the charade and finding something with far more power and meaning and that’s why Brazil and Russia have a massive punk and hardcore audience enthralled by bands you will never read about or hear on the radio, that’s why there is a punk and metal scene in Iran but little interest in indie music, that’s why China has had a big punk scene for years (we regularly review their releases on this site and we will be releasing our own stuff over there) that’s why the middle east has punk and metal scenes that has resulted in the tragic murder of the ‘Emo’ kids in Iraq. that’s why Pussy Riot have become an international cause cÃÂ©lÃÂ¨bre for their post Riot Grrrl, anti Putin activities in Russia.
Its been an ongoing process for a long time.
At first it was people in Indonesia and Malaysia asking for free records and CDs which we sent, now it’s for MP3s and information. It’s a process that is truly worldwide. We have had cassettes from Crass style bands in Nepal, emails from cities in China we had to look up on a map, played gigs in Russia to thousands of wild punk kids, acknowledged the massive Brazilian punk scene, seen the sheer scale of the US punk underground, played in Algeria to hundreds of wild punk kids and hung out with committed punk rock folk all over the world.
Punk is truly international and has a powerful meaning that many have lost in the UK because we thought we were above it all. Punk has become a retro feature- the story of the Clash and ignores all the bands who have become a tue massive influence on worldwide punk scenes like Crass and second wave punk.
What was once a true alternative culture has been watered down or marginalised here. What was once independent because it existed outside the mainstream has become ‘indie’, a byword for transparent, easily marketed, vaguely hip music.
It once meant Crass and now it means Coldplay.
Ironically I’m sat in Southern studios, the place where Crass made all those amazing records writing this. In the UK music like this is routinely ignored by the mainstream and written out of the history of rock. Meanwhile worldwide they have become part of a platform of bands that are so much of a threat that the fans are routinely beaten up or even killed.
The punk rock international is now everywhere and in recent weeks has seen a constant series of reports about oppression and death.
Last week we reported the stoning to death of Emo kids in Iraq by local cops and militias. Their crime was having different hair styles that were seen as decadent- are we really living in the 21st century? We wrote about Pussy Riot facing jail for their anti Putin gig in a church, we reported the Indonesian punks getting arrested and harassed by the local cops. Meanwhile indie bands moan about their rider and their record label and their drug problems…
We think we are above it all here and have neatly edited punk out of our culture into a conservative cartoon cut out like on the Young Ones, a neat paradoy that took something that was once intelligent and dangerous and made it into a joke. We won’t play punk on the radio because it doesn’t fit in with our edited and watered down idea of alternative, we don’t stone people to death here thank god, we just make sure no one can hear them.
And remember just before you feel really smug in your Safe European Home don’t forget that oppression strikes in the UK as the conservative forces bring the baton down, like in the case of Sophie Lancaster- beaten to death in a park 5 years ago because of her style or the hundreds of kids who get bullied in the UK because they dare to dress outside the norm- it still goes on beyond the confines of watered down ‘alternative’ culture.